No Man

How the West Was Won

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A strong rebound from the disappointing Whamon Express, How the West Was Won is probably the strongest album of Roger Miller's No Man period. Retaining the song-oriented forthrightness of Win! Instantly! and Whamon Express, the album also adds a stronger dose of the edgy experimentalism of Miller's more avant-garde projects. Tape loops, sped-up voices, and other bits of sonic weirdness decorate nearly all the songs, but they're almost never the main focus. Instead, Miller works them into the arrangements in ways that enhance the songs, like the way the jagged, post-punk guitar solos clash interestingly with the futuristic gallop of the lengthy "Grabbed Star," or how the subtle electronics and tape loops add a chilly gloss to the passionately urgent chorus of "Boomerang." Mixing electronics and guitars in a way that was patently unfashionable at the dawn of grunge, How the West Was Won nonetheless holds up much better than most of the more commercially successful alternative albums of its era.

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